A bell tolled 11 times Tuesday inside American Legion Post 118 on North Lake Street — once for each of the 11 wars in which Americans have fought and died.
Amherst veterans, police officers, and firefighters gathered there on the 17th anniversary of the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
The attacks by al-Qaeda terrorists killed 2,996 people and injured more than 6,000 others. The nation watched in horror as two commercial airplanes flown into the World Trade Center towers in New York, another smashed into the Pentagon, and a fourth crashed in rural Pennsylvania after passengers fought back against the hijackers.
“Thousands of lives were suddenly ended by evil, despicable acts of terror,” said guest speaker and Amherst mayor Mark Costilow, quoting President George W. Bush. “The pictures of airplanes flying into buildings, fires burning, huge structures collapsing, have filled us with disbelief, terrible sadness and a quiet, unyielding anger.”
But despite the human tragedy — the fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, and aunts and uncles lost forever — the terrorists failed to change Americans’ way of life, he said.
Yes, we may worry about who else may be on the plane when we travel or be more aware of what dangers lurk in our surroundings, but in general, the terror attacks have had little impact on everyday life, the mayor said, and that means the terrorists failed in their goal.
“Our nation found unity, focus, and strength” in the aftermath of Sept. 11, said Jon Markovitch of the Sons of the American Legion. “We found healing in the nation’s outpouring of compassion for those we lost. As millions of Americans participated in moments of silence, candlelight vigils, and religious services for the tragedy of Sept. 11, we merged into a strong nation.”
Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.